Fashion giants Levi Strauss & Co and H&M have announced plans to implement a global ban on sandblasting in all of their future product lines.
Both companies will refrain from placing any new orders for sandblasted products immediately, and cease any active production that uses the finishing technique by 31 December this year.
The two companies are urging other fashion firms to join the ban in a move toward eliminating sandblasting as an industry practice.
In a joint statement, the companies said the measure was for the health and safety of workers across the apparel industry.
Sandblasting is one of a number of finishing techniques used to create a worn look for denim and other apparel. Without proper safeguards though, the practice can cause workers potentially serious harm resulting from exposure to crystalline silica.
Both Levi’s and H&M said they fear that some factories in the apparel industry – often linked to counterfeit operations – are not applying the right safeguards.
“At Levi Strauss & Co, we’ve implemented rigorous standards for sandblasting in our own supply chain but we decided that the best way to help ensure no worker – in any garment factory – faces the risks associated with exposure to crystalline silica is to move to end sandblasting industry-wide,” said David Love, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer at Levi Strauss & Co.
The ban includes, but is not limited to, the use of aluminum oxide, aluminum silicate, silicon carbide, copper slag and garnet for abrasive blasting, a statement said.
“H&M has had health and safety requirements for sandblasting for several years. Like all other code of conduct requirements, monitoring of sandblasting practices has been part of our extensive full audit programme. At the same time, securing that these standards are being observed by all of our suppliers and their subcontractors has proven too difficult.
“In order to make certain that no worker producing denim garments for H&M risks his or her health, we have decided to quit purchasing and retailing sandblasted products,” said Karl Gunnar Fagerlin, production manager at H&M.